“You gonna come walk with me, or are you just gonna lie there looking all corpsified?” Marisol stood at the foot of his bed, arms folded and eyebrow cocked, very much in command.

Dorian glanced up from the sync box. “Kindly hand me mah robe,” he gestured. “And avert yah eyes. Ah’ll not have yah oglin’ mah backside.”

“Don’t worry; my interest in your skinny blanco ass starts and ends with keeping it from being shot off.”

He eased into his bedroom slippers. “Mah gratitude is profound,” Dorian said as he tied the robe’s belt. “Any news on that front?”

“Come, come,” she gestured, leading him from the hospital room. Arm in arm, they strolled casually beneath the bright lighting of the corridor as nursing staff and orderlies hurried past. The public address system delivered a steady stream of coded tones and voice messages as their leisurely pace soon brought them to the elevator bank. “Is there a private place we could talk?”

“Ah do know a spot.”

The elevator carried them downward, from the sparkling white and institutional green to brick walls whose peeling paint left dried rolls upon the bare concrete floor. “Geez,” Marisol exclaimed as they moved along from one dim pool of light to the next, “Are you murdering people down here?”

“You’re mah third today,” Dorian quipped. “In here.” The door’s window was the only light source, permitting just enough of the corridor’s illumination to make out shapes and obstacles in the semidarkness. “Back here.” He took her hand to guide her through a maze of boxes.

As Marisol’s eyes grew accustomed, she realized that the room was full of hospital equipment. Racks of various sizes, utility carts, and even furnishings were stacked and arrayed in somewhat haphazard style throughout the room. They passed a low table, surrounded by five chairs loosely situated beneath a movable treatment lamp. Laboratory beakers had been pressed into use as impromptu glasses, and petri dishes held the crushed remains of cigars. “Been playing a few hands?” she asked.

“Ah’m invited for tahnight. Back here, where we won’t be seen.”

Behind a row of stacked crates sat an examination table, white leather padding folded upward into a reclined seating position. Here could also be found signs of recent human occupation, in the presence of pillows and blankets strewn carelessly about. “Do I even want to know?” she asked.

“Some things a man shouldn’t discuss with his mothah-in-law.”

She caught sight of the gynecological stirrups, splayed left and right. “Ugh.” Marisol turned away in disgust. “I’m not sitting on that.”

“Misdirection protocol,” he chuckled. “If we get caught, make it look like we’re up tah somethin’ else…”

“I hate you.”

“Then yah’d like Lt. Riley,” Dorian replied as he helped Marisol onto the table. She wriggled into place on the seat, arms settling upon the padded rests. Dorian took to the foot, perched upon his knees before her. “So,” he asked, “Didja learn anythin’?”

“Not really,” she shook her head. “You’re out in the cold, as far as the network is concerned.”

“Yes,” he agreed. “Don’t call us, we’ll call you” was what Ah got last time Ah tried tah check in.”

“When is the hospital discharging you?”

“Day aftah tomorrow,” Dorian replied.

“That’ll work,” Marisol said thoughtfully. “I spent the whole night vouching for your loyalty, and begging for a meetup. A couple of them owe me favors. Still, they played 'hard to get' until I agreed to quid pro quo. I think we’re gonna get you in front of them…let them feel you out with questions…”

He nodded enthusiastically. “Ah’m your Yuè jú. Soon as they cut me loose. Any word on Russokova?”

“Not that they’d share. You know?” Marisol nestled her shoulders into the padded white leather, “this thing really is comfortable.”

“It’ll make a nice addition tah Lunar Veil’s infirmary,” his grin could be seen in the near darkness, “along with a few othah odds and ends.”

“Let me guess,” she said. “You and that pirate crew of yours are stealing from a hospital.”

Dorian tiled his head. “Why, Captain Chavez, yah wound me. ‘Stealing’ is such an ugly word, especially when ‘reallocating resources’ is a much more accurate description.”

Her eyebrow lifted. “Just you make double-dog certain you don’t ‘reallocate’ yourself into the local lockup. We should probably get you back, now…”

“Wait!” he whispered, his voice an urgent hiss as he lifted a palm. Dorian glanced wildly about, his exposed eye wide open. “Didja hear that? Somebody’s comin’…”

“…and it won’t be you,” Marisol smirked as her playful shove sent Dorian off the foot of the table. “Nice try, Don Juan. Save it for your honeymoon.”

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